However, with increasing competition and dwindling attention spans, acquiring and retaining customers is not always easy. U.S. companies lose $136.8 billion annually due to avoidable customer switching.
Marketers now face various challenges in getting the right attention as consumers no longer connect with self-marketing strategies.
But what if you could get people to talk about your brand instead of using a traditional outbound marketing approach?
What is buzz marketing?
Buzz marketing is a marketing technique that creates visibility and excitement around a brand through word-of-mouth marketing.
Word of mouth drives purchase decisions and is at the heart of buzz marketing. It's like a chain reaction, where marketers kickstart an unconventional campaign and draw customers using buzz.
But what exactly is "buzz"? It could be a picture, an idea, a sentence, a quote, a video, or some other marketing ploy. However, it's almost always absurd, unique, or truly phenomenal. After all, a buzz is what makes people talk (or not) about your brand.
When done right, buzz marketing helps:
Generate free publicity
Create brand awareness
Create a positive sentiment around your brand
Perform audience analysis and target a new audience beyond your brand's buyer personas
There are several reasons why buzz marketing is so effective.
Consumers trust recommendations from colleagues as they're generally unbiased.
The fear of missing out (FOMO) comes into play when people feel the need to "be part" of online conversations.
Because buzz marketing relies on frequency illusion where consumers keep coming across the same message, it usually stays with them.
Buzz marketing vs. viral marketing – what's the difference?
Both buzz marketing and viral marketing have similar goals. However, they differ in development and use. The following differentiators can help you choose one of the two popular marketing styles.
The main difference between buzz and viral marketing is how each reaches an audience. A viral campaign slowly picks up speed and builds up gradually with each release. On the other hand, buzz marketing explodes quickly, i.e., directs and simultaneously sends messages to a large audience.
In viral marketing, the campaign is the main focus. Additionally, a viral message evokes a certain feeling or emotion. Conversely, buzz marketing gets people to talk about the brand, not just the message. This is why the latter is generally preferred when launching a new product.
Viral marketing campaigns are mainly carried out on social media. For buzz marketing, the first trigger could come from an offline event like a street performance or a product testing campaign, helping reach thousands of people instantly.
To decide if buzz marketing is for your business, you need to understand its pros and cons. Let's take a look.
Here are some of buzz marketing's main advantages:
For starters, buzz marketing is a pretty cheap (and often free) way to generate publicity for your brand. It can get you a higher return on investment (ROI) than traditional forms of marketing.
It also enables marketers to connect with their audience instantly. This paves the way for a better brand image and loyal customers.
Finally, since buzz marketing takes off fast, it's a great strategy for quick results.
Buzz marketing has some drawbacks too. Some of these are:
Buzz marketing's success largely depends on triggers. And naturally, standing out from the crowd is not child's play. So, creating any real buzz requires a whole lot of research and ideation.
After a point, it isn't easy to control who your buzz marketing campaign targets.
You need to learn from trial and error for your message to go viral.
If you don't choose your triggers carefully, they can backfire and damage your brand image.
Types of buzz marketing
You need to give users something to talk about for buzz marketing to work.
According to Mark Hughes, the brain behind "buzz marketing," six different conversion starters, known as buzz buttons, determine a campaign's health. Let's understand what these six possibilities are.
Taboo usually refers to controversial subjects beyond the safe and boring, like politics or veganism. Everyone has an answer or opinion on these topics. A prominent example of taboo is how some news channels handle controversies to get people to talk about their shows.
Similarly, using taboo buttons in a marketing campaign can help attract more attention. However, it's important to be careful and keep within limits when dealing with sensitive issues.
2. The unusual
The unusual conversation starter offers your audience something unique, something out of the blue. It gets your brand noticed and sets it apart from the competition.
The brands often use "the unusual" to bring a new product to market and spark a discussion about it. It can include something never seen before or off the norm.
3. The remarkable
When a restaurant goes beyond expectations and treats you to a spectacular dining experience, you tell people, don't you? Then "the remarkable" trigger activates. It may be the easiest for brands to implement as it relies on customer satisfaction.
Here, the goal is to create something better than average and offer a great customer experience.
Remember, average and ordinary is no longer enough for consumers. On-time customer support, a flexible return policy, and fast delivery pave the way for a great buzz marketing campaign.
4. The outrageous
The last three triggers are relatively harder to apply in businesses.
Outrageous triggers take consumers by surprise. Several brands rely on "the outrageous" to grab attention and improve recall value. The outrageous can involve funny, shocking, sad, or just any emotion.
You need to make sure this type of buzz marketing relates to your brand. We all may laugh at a commercial but forget the brand name when sharing about it. Does the brand benefit from this? Not really.
5. The hilarious
Hilarious is one of the most popular buzz buttons. It relies on humor to grab and keep the audience's attention. Hilarious content spreads like wildfire because we're always looking for reasons to laugh.
6. The secret
The secret is the sixth and final buzz button. People are curious about things withheld from them. They want to learn more about something mysterious and take pride in sharing secrets.
One way to use this technique is to give select customers a glimpse into a product not yet launched or behind the scenes at your company. The idea is to make people feel like they're on the inside. Secrets or even messages to something bigger are a great way to get buzz around your brand.
How do you generate marketing buzz?
Now that you know what buzz marketing is, why it's so effective, and the different types, it's time to get down to brass tacks. Here are six easy steps to generate the buzz you need.
Nail down your buyer personas
What's the first thing you do when you start developing a marketing campaign? You think about your audience. If you don't understand your audience, you can't address them. This marks your buzz marketing campaign's failure.
So, start by creating buyer personas that represent your ideal customer.
Here are some questions to ask:
Who are they?
What is their profession?
How old are they?
What are their pain points?
Where do they look for information?
What do they consider "fun"?
What matters to them while selecting a vendor?
Once you know your buyer persona(s), you can easily choose a suitable buzz marketing technique.
Come up with a branded hashtag
Brands want to see everything people say about them in one place. A branded hashtag helps you with this. A hashtag marketing strategy also makes it a breeze to collect customer feedback after your campaign is over.
Finally, when you access all of the content under one hashtag, monitoring success is pretty easy too. So, make sure to include your hashtag when posting a buzz marketing campaign.
Even if you started a campaign offline, make it a point to talk about it on every social platform you're on. Tweak the content for each platform as needed.
For buzz marketing to work, you need to provide some value to your audience. So, put out high-quality content, making prospects want to learn more about your brand, share it with their friends, and eventually convert them into customers.
Make the most of your email subscribers. Closely examine your list and weed out active users – loyal customers who're most likely to read your email. Then send them emails offering perks like free subscriptions, coupons, or discounts. Finally, encourage them to become ambassadors by sharing more about your brand with other interested prospects.
Reach out to the right influencers
You can partner with an influencer or brand ambassador for better visibility and reach. Influencers have a good social media presence and a highly engaged audience. They also know what kind of content works for their followers. Since their opinions are taken quite seriously, it's easy to capitalize on them and build a buzz around your product.
You can start by simply giving select influencers a newly released product as a gift and asking them to share an honest review on social media, together with your brand hashtag, of course.
Your buzz marketing campaign doesn't end until you evaluate its success.
For example, you can use analytics tools to analyze metrics such as your website's traffic performance or views on your YouTube video. Simply put, you use your usual marketing key performance indicators (KPIs) to see if you're achieving your goals.
Gauge whether your brand's performance improved with your buzz marketing campaign. If not, try to understand what went wrong and use this data to inform future marketing campaigns.
Tips and ideas for effective buzz marketing
Now let's go over some of the best hacks, tips, and ideas for a successful buzz marketing campaign.
Focus more on people
Your brand and product need to be in the spotlight, but keep in mind that people drive buzz marketing campaigns. So, always keep your audience in the backdrop. Think about their interests, pain points, hobbies, and needs if you want to create a real buzz.
Use the scarcity technique
You've probably seen e-commerce websites offering flash sales. Flash sales work pretty much on a scarcity principle. The reason it works is simple. People value scarce things more.
The idea is to reduce a product's availability while the demand remains the same. Brands that successfully apply the scarcity principle are often labeled as exclusive, allowing them to charge a premium price for their products.
Use two or more buzz buttons at the same time
If you want to draw more from your buzz marketing efforts, you need to offer something better to your audience. Each of the buttons Mark Hughes described is an effective way to create campaigns. But what if you combine two of these?
For example, instead of just being unusual, do something unusual and hilarious. This leads to more people wanting to share your content.
Go for a video marketing campaign
Video marketing works well for many reasons. It is visually stimulating, memorable, highly shareable, conveys messages easily, and can trigger strong emotions. This is pretty much everything your buzz marketing message needs to be. You should come up with ideas that you can bring to life through video content.
Level with the buzz
Even if you create a massive buzz among your audience, it isn't good for your brand if your product doesn't live up to expectations. You could end up losing existing customers and struggling to find new ones. So make sure your brand and product match the hype your buzz marketing campaign generates.
Successful buzz marketing examples
By now, you probably know how effective buzz marketing is. Here are three examples of brands that successfully implemented this strategy and inspired many others.
Starbucks relies heavily on buzz marketing to stay popular and relevant with its audience. One of the first things that spring to mind when we hear about Starbucks is their leading customization tactic of writing customers' names on coffee mugs.
Many customers voluntarily share these mugs' pictures on their social accounts, helping Starbucks gain free publicity. Even misspelled names get a lot of online attention. Take a look at the number of posts for the hashtag #starbucksnamefail on Instagram.
This isn't all. Starbucks even taps the surprise buzz button via its secret menu. Coffee lovers don't find these drinks on the menu. They need to ask the barista to prepare it specifically. Most flavors are unique and unknown, such as Butterbeer Latte and Apple Pie Frappuccino.
People find out about these drinks through mere word of mouth. Starbucks picks a few loyal customers to get the word out on social media.
Aviation American Gin
In 2019, Peloton released a commercial that was widely criticized for showing women in a certain light. Aviation Gin hired the same actress from the Peloton commercial for its ad, successfully leveraging humor to spark a conversation about its liquor by skillfully relating it to a current scandal.
In 2020, the social audio app Clubhouse took the internet by storm. Thanks to its buzz marketing strategy, it grew exceptionally quickly. The platform had invitation-only membership, which made users want to head over to the platform.
Within a few nights, the clubhouse became the talk of the town, leaving internet users desperate for invitations.